Shop sales of bottled Pedigree beer have more than doubled since the start of the Ashes, brewer and pubs chain Marston’s said yesterday.
Brewed in Burton upon Trent, Pedigree is the official beer of England cricket and its popularity has contributed to rise of about one per cent in Marston’s share of the premium cask and bottled ale market, the company said in a trading update.
“Of particular note is the performance of Marston’s Pedigree... which has seen off-trade bottle volumes more than double since the end of the first half-year on April 4,” the statement said.
The Wolverhampton group, formerly Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries, said trading continued to be resilient across the group, with sales trends showing further improvement since April, despite the wet weather. Like-for-like sales in its managed pubs division declined by 1.2 per cent in the 43 weeks to August 1, but in the last six weeks of the period the downward trend was reversed with growth of 2.3 per cent.
Marston’s food business, which represents 38 per cent of total sales, achieved an improvement of six per cent in the same period. An easing of food cost inflation and tight management of promotional offers meant margins were in line with those seen in the first half. In its tenanted pubs operation, Marston’s said profits from the bulk of the estate continued to be in line with last year.
It said it was committed to long-term solutions for the rest of the portfolio, with a variable rent agreement launched earlier this year being well received by tenants. Helped by the boost for Pedigree bottled beer, Marston’s said own-brewed beer volumes increased by around 13 per cent, with its market shares in premium cask ale and premium bottled ale both up by about one per cent in the current financial year.
It slowed its new build programme last year but the completion of a £165 million rights issue in recent weeks means it expects to develop around 60 new managed pubs over the next three years. The company also recently extended its bank facilities to August 2013.
Looking ahead, the company said yesterday: “Although we remain cautious because of the current challenging economic and trading environment, we are confident of meeting our expectations for the year.
“We are encouraged by the robust performance of the business which reflects the high quality of our pubs, our value for money offers, the popularity of our ale brands and the continued implementation of our stated approach.”
Referring to the controversial recent Business and Enterprise Committee report calling for a review of the relationships between pub operators and licensees, Marston’s said yesterday it “continues to develop its relationship with tenants and lessees, and to operate in a transparent manner with the objective of a fair division of risk and reward”.